Saturday, 11 June 2016


At one point of time, when you have your basic skincare routine, you will be probably interested in using actives such as AHA, BHA, retinol, retinoid or vitamin C.  Actives are special treatments to rejuvenate the skin.  While there are many AHAs (Glycolic acid, Mandelic Acid etc), BHA, retinoid and vitamins out there, it is hard to know what to do with all these shiny new things.

You might be wondering on how to use those actives since there are many opinions around.

This is a guide on using vitamin C, BHA,AHA& retinol.
Retinoid such as (tretinion, adapelene, tazorac etc) are used differently so it is not included in this guide.


1.  Do you need a PH adjusting toner? 

Ph adjusting toner means toner that has PH lower than 5. Water above PH 7 and cleansers above PH7 are more irritating to your skin.  Then you will need PH adjusting toner to balance out the high PH of 8-9.

If you are not using a high PH cleanser or do not have tap water above PH 7 but still want to use a PH adjusting toner, make sure that you are not using too many strong actives at once. Keep only one active or your will highly exfoliate because PH adjusting toner makes 'actives' penetrate your skin so well that it is likely your skin will become irritated.  For some people, the over-exfoliation will not probably be visible in day but only seen over a course of time-1month.

2.  Do you need wait time?

The wait time is proposed for the actives to do its job of exfoliating the skin.  Some people do 20-30 minutes of wait time. Also there are some saying that if you do not have a low PH cleanser, you should wait for 30 minutes so that the skin could return to the normal PH of 5.5.

In my opinion, using a cleanser that is gentle to my skin is probably enough since I don't have the time to wait 30 minutes for my face or else it will  be as dry as desert.  Next thing of throwing actives on my face is just probably going to shock my skin more.  Sorry, that is not a life I am about.

Even some low Ph cleanser can irritate so choose your cleansers well.

So, there are two ways to use actives. So, according to your preference, situation, skin type and needs.  Do read both up first before accusing me of anything. I have tried both methods myself.

A)Wait time of (10-30minutes)&after cleanser

Cleanser>(ph lowering toner) > actives> (wait 20minutes) hydrating toner>moisturiser

This is just basic routine for me to show you the 'wait time' thing. Use this to make your actives more effective. The actives should also have the right ph and be apply right after the cleanser.

This will amplify your actives and makes it strong since application on damp skin makes everything penetrate better.

The wait time is good if you are using lower concentration actives, want to make your actives work as strong as the one in the clinics, have a skin that already reach plateau of the level of sensitivity to actives, skin that is probably resistant to all sort of lower concentration of actives and already a senior in skincare to know what you are doing.  Also you people with these routine do not do all actives everyday.

Keep in mind that low PH toner combine with actives in high percentage, using a few actives in the same routine and doing the wait time can cause irritation.

B. No long wait time&actives is place in serum step

Cleansing> hydrating toner > vitamin C >(dry 5 min) > moisturiser.

This is for people who are new to actives, using a high percentage of actives, have sensitive skin and probably do not have time for all those waiting. It is less irritating because you buffer it down and it won’t risk your skin even if have forgotten and use actives more than it should be.

You would probably won't see results as fast as the A step since you already tone your actives down but then you won't probably end up with red, dry and angry skin.

So, that is. I would prefer you not to start with so many actives like retinoid, vitamin C, AHA and BHA all once because once you over-exfoliate your skin, you will need to stop those actives and nurse your poor skin to health which will surely take time.  Try to start with only one or two actives at a time unless you have really thick skin (I mean it literary).

Again, be discreet in using actives and there is no need to rush it. Skin changes over time and the reason that some people develop irritation after few months of using actives. Always check on your skin and be gentle to it.  No use of forcing love on your skin to see fast results.

For those who are new to Asian skincare, here is a visual guide of Asian Skincare products.

Ps: I am not here to criticize anyone or tell you that you MUST do this. I am just sharing my personal opinion it. Besides, do not ask me to get whatever pieces of research to back it up because science changes and there are many contrary opinion even on one tiny question.

Not a sponsored.  The opinions expressed here are my own and honest as always.

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